Science and technology policies and the middle-income trap: lessons from Vietnam
Robyn Klingler-Vidra and
LSE Research Online Documents on Economics from London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library
As Vietnam crossed the World Bank’s threshold from ‘low income’ to ‘lower middle-income’ in 2010 the government and aid donors started to speak about ‘the middle-income trap’ as a central problem; and to frame ‘science and technology (S&T) policy’ as a means of sustaining economic growth and thereby avoiding the trap. They identified China and its S&T policy as a model, and pointed to Intel’s $1 billion facility as evidence of a burgeoning technology hub. Yet in the years that followed, Vietnam’s S&T policy has limped along, with efforts simply to boost the number of Silicon Valley-styled start-ups rather than to pursue a ‘Made in China 2025’-like programme. This paper reveals two main reasons. First, the Ministry of Science and Technology is a weak ministry with little budget, unable to persuade other ministries to cooperate in more ambitious and capital-intensive strategies. Second, excitement around S&T policies was fuelled by an influx of high-tech Vietnamese returning home after the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, lending support for building start-up ecosystems. These mechanisms are reinforced by Western aid agencies’ support for this narrow S&T policy conception. Findings are based on policy documents and interviews conducted with S&T policy-makers, aid donor staff, and start-up investors between 2012 and 2018.
JEL-codes: N0 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 15 pages
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Published in Journal of Development Studies, 2, April, 2020, 56(4), pp. 717 - 731. ISSN: 0022-0388
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:ehl:lserod:100712
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